Ply by David Mamet. Lie, Cheat, Steal... All in a day's work. David Mamet's modern classic is set in an office of cut-throat Chicago salesmen. Pitched in competition against each other, they will do anything, legal or otherwise, to sell the most real estate. In this world of high stakes and hard sell, the mantra is simple: close the deal and you've won a Cadillac; blow the lead and you're f***d.
Original London Production (National Theatre) 1983 / 1986
Previewed 15 September 1983, Opened 21 September 1983, Closed 20 March 1985 (in repertory) at the National Theatre's Cottesloe Theatre (now Dorfman Theatre)
Previewed 13 February 1986, Opened 24 February 1986, Closed 17 May 1986 at the Mermaid Theatre
The original NT Cottesloe Theatre cast featured Derek Newark as 'Shelly Levene', Karl Johnson as 'John Williamson', James Grant as 'George Aaronow', Jack Shepherd as 'Richard Roma', Tony Haygarth as 'James Lingk', John Tams as 'Baylen' and Trevor Ray as 'Dave Moss'.
Following a regional tour this National Theatre production returned to London for a three-month straight-run at the Marmaid Theatre when Kevin McNally took over the role of 'Richard Roma'.
Directed by Bill Bryden with designs by Hayden Griffin, lighting by Andy Philips and sound by Caz Appleton (sound at Mermaid Theatre by Anthony Waldron).
London Revival (Donmar Warehouse) 1994
Previewed 16 June 1994, Opened 22 June 1994, Closed 27 August 1994 at the Donmar Warehouse
The cast featured James Bolam as 'Shelly Levene', William Armstrong as 'John Williamson', John Benfield as 'George Aaronow', Ron Cook as 'Richard Roma', Keith Bartlett as 'James Lingk', Carl Proctor as 'Baylen' and Anthony O'Donnell as 'Dave Moss'. Directed by Sam Mendes with designs by Johan Engels, lighting by David Hersey and sound by Fergus O'Hare.
London West End Revival 2007
Previewed 27 September 2007, Opened 10 October 2007, Closed 12 January 2008 at the Apollo Theatre
This revival of Glengarry Glen Ross in London starring Jonathan Pryce and Aidan Gillen marks, in 2008, the 25th anniversary of the original London premiere
The cast featured Jonathan Pryce as 'Shelly Levene', Anthony Flanagan as 'John Williamson', Matthew Marsh as 'George Aaronow', Aidan Gillen as 'Richard Roma', Tom Smith as 'James Lingk', Shane Attwool as 'Baylen' and Matthew Marsh as 'Dave Moss'. Directed by James Macdonald with designs by Anthony Ward and lighting by Howard Harrison.
"His terrific play Glengarry Glen Ross pretends to be naturalistic, but the way David Mamet's real-estate salesmen speak, their pumped-up patter littered with four-letter words and repetition, is actually poetry in motion, a heightened theatrical language with the subtext of fear and despair boldly spelt out. And the texture of each character's speech is subtly, revealingly different... The pace of James Macdonald's production is a bit too slack to begin with and he makes a big mistake in introducing a prolonged interval when the action shifts from the restaurant to the paper strewn office the morning after the night before. It ruins the shape of a play which, second only to Arthur Miller's Death Of A Salesman, so eloquently reveals how a salesman actually sells himself untilhe's sold out. The performances, nevertheless, do Mamet's writing proud." The Mail on Sunday
"Finely-tuned vituperation sits at the heart of this jittery play with its trailing sentences, hard interruptions and frequent overlapping. It is the work of a writer with the finest of finely-tuned ears who has caught the nuances of cut-throat competition in the shady world of American real estate salesmen... Director James MacDonald makes this production zip along with profane energy, exposing the vile underbelly of consumer politics with all its slick sales-speak, emptiness and soul-for-rent philosophy. Jonathan Pryce, always a joy, is brilliant as the burnt-out Shelley Levene - fast-talking, desperate and sure that he will once again pull off the big sale. And when a sudden success turns out to be a dud, Pryce just crumbles like a broken biscuit. It is a deeply moving moment. But it is Aidan Gillen's shrieking performance, who appears alongside Matthew Marsh playing Dave Moss, as the deceitful little creep Richard Roma - a man who would not only sell his grandmother down the river, but would also toss in her saggy stockings for good measure - which dominates the stage. His machine-gun duplicity, the pulverising lies, and a salesman's glib hysteria all tumble out in a memorable performance. Gillen turns the character into a hateful monster - so much that you are tempted to leap on to the stage and drag him off by his horrid, spiky hair. He was that good." The Daily Express
"Like Patrick Marber's play Dealer's Choice, David Mamet's is unapologetically about men, their games of one-upmanship and the unevolved playground sensibility within which they are fated to remain trapped even as their hair turns grey. In director James Macdonald's hands it's an adrenaline-overdose, on-the-ropes knock-out of a production, which, running at just under an hour and a half, leaves you punch-drunk but masochistically, or, indeed, sadistically, wishing for more. It's also an expletive fest, which, far from being gratuitous, is a masterclass in using 'profanities' to outline character and psychology and win a laugh when you least expect one. Set in Chicago in 1983 and revolving around the scams and counter-scams of a group of seedy, racist real-estate salesmen, Mamet's play is as damning an indictment of capitalism as you'll find this side of Death of a Salesman... Mamet's play is, in some ways, a star-vehicle, demanding charismatic performances; but the equal weight he places on the shoulders of each character also means it is, at the same time, the ultimate ensemble piece. James Macdonald has a strong cast at his fingertips, but in this production some animals turn out to be more equal than others. Standing head and shoulders above the rest are Jonathan Pryce (above), who brings an old-timer's cunning and withered pathos to Shelley 'The Machine' Levene, the office star fallen unto the sear, who believes his comeback is just one deal away; and Aidan Gillen, as Roma, a moustachioed, preening, natural-born grifter - armed, as is Gillen's calling card, with a dangerously ambiguous sexuality that can only serve him well in his life on the road." The Sunday Telegraph
Glengarry Glen Ross in London at the Apollo Theatre previewed from 27 September 2007, opened on 10 October 2007 and closed on 12 January 2008
London West End Revival 2017
Previewed 26 October 2017, Opened 9 November 2017, Closed 3 February 2018 at the Playhouse Theatre in London
The cast features Christian Slater as 'Ricky Roma' with Robert Glenister as 'Dave Moss', Kris Marshall as 'John Williamson', Stanley Townsend as 'Shelley Levene', Don Warrington as 'George Aaronow', Daniel Ryan as 'James Lingk' and Oliver Ryan as 'Baylen. Directed by Sam Yates with designs by Chiara Stephenson and lighting by Richard Howell.
When this production opened here at London's Playhouse Theatre in November 2017, Neil Norman in the Daily Express hailed how "this scorching revival is a timely reminder of Mamet's tightly-wound talent. Like a street punk version of Arthur Miller's Death Of A Salesman, it eviscerates the American dream with merciless skill... Director Sam Yates reins in the play's paranoia which makes it even more effective, as if the characters are deluding themselves as much as their targets. A short, sharp, savagely entertaining night." Holly Williams in the i newspaper praised how "Christian Slater is simply superb as Ricky Roma, the slickest of salesmen in a hyper-macho estate agent's office in Chicago... David Mamet's bitingly funny, rapidfire, overlapping dialogue - which often seems to say nothing but in which meaning lurks, coiled and sharp as barbed wire - can take some tuning in to. Parts of the first half aren't there yet, but things heat up considerably in a second half in which dreams are crushed, lies are flung and screws are tightened." Michael Billington in the Guardian asked: "How well does David Mamet's play, 34 years after its world premiere at the National Theatre's Cottesloe Theatre, stand up? The short answer is with great vigour. That is partly because its report from the frontline of cut-throat capitalism still rings true and partly because this latest revival has a tip-top cast headed by Christian Slater who has already earned his spurs on the London stage... The joy of the play lies in its language, which ricochets off the walls like a ball in a squash court and which is roundly relished in Sam Yates's production." Sarah Hemming in the Financial Times described how "Sam Yates tackles the playwright's blistering dialogue as if it were music... There's real enjoyment in watching this stellar cast deliver these expletive-ridden speeches with such panache." Dominic Cavendish in the Daily Telegraph said that "once the production introduces us to Christian Slater as Roma, it moves up a gear in terms of crackling authenticity... Once we've cleared the stop-start early scenes and the hurdle of a distracting interval, and we're plunged into the ferrets-in-a-sack mayhem of the office itself, the evening comes into its own." Henry Hitchings in the London Evening Standard noted that "the first half of Sam Yates's sharp revival consists of three thoroughly awkward tête-à-têtes in a plushly furnished empty Chinese restaurant. It's an introduction to the characters' inventive deceitfulness... After an energy-sapping interval, the production comes alive and the actors savour the rhythms of Mamet's language." Ann Treneman in the Times explained how "the language here is the action - bombastic, desperate, agile, furious - and it's enlivening, if a bit raw, to see it done so well. Sam Yates directs and keeps it sharp... The first act seems a bit jerky but, by the second, everything is motoring as smooth as can be. The set, by Chiara Stephenson, captures those healthand-safety nightmare offices perfectly, right down to the stained ceiling tiles." Quentin Letts in the Daily Mail commented how the director "Sam Yates has assembled a top cast. The salesmen are slick Ricky, forlorn George, failing Levene and embittered Moss. Every actor a winner... If the play's first half is a little static, the second is a cracker. Christian Slater is wonderful as silver-tongued, slippery Ricky."
Christian Slater's West End credits include Wilson Milam's stage production of George Huang's Swimming with Sharks at the Vaudeville Theatre in 2007; and Terry Johnson and Tamara Harvey's production of Dale Wasserman's One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest at the Gieldgud Theatre in 2004 and a return season at the Garrick Theatre in 2006.
Robert Glenister's London theatre credits include Nicholas Hytner's production of Richard Bean's Great Britain at the National Theatre's Olivier Theatre in 2014 and transfer to the Haymarket Theatre in 2014; Lindsay Posner's revival of Michael Frayn's Noises Off at the Old Vic Theatre in 2011 and transfer to the Novello Theatre in 2012; and Patrick Marber's stage production of Dennis Potter's Blue Remembered Hills at the National Theatre's Lyttelton Theatre in 1996. Kris Marshall's London stage credits include Neil LaBute's Fat Pig at the Trafalgar Studios in 2008; and Christopher Hampton's Treats at the Garrick Theatre in 2007. Stanley Townsend's London theatre credits include Jeremy Herrin's production of Jennifer Haley's The Nether at the Royal Court Theatre in 2014 and transfer to the Duke of York's Theatre in 2015; Iqbal Khan's revival of Arthur Miller's Broken Glass at the Vaudeville Theatre in 2011; Richard Eyre's revival of the musical Guys and Dolls at the National Theatre's Olivier Theatre in 1996; and Sam Mendes' revival of Sean O'Casey's Plough and the Stars at the Young Vic Theatre in 1991. Don Warrington's West End stage credits include Angus Jackson's production of Kwame Kwei-Armah's Elmina's Kitchen at the Garrick Theatre in 2005. Sam Yates' London directing credits in a revival of Ayub Khan Din's East is East starring the playwright and Jane Horrocks at the Trafalgar Studio in 2015.
"David Mamet's play is all about the vulnerability that lies beneath the tough talk of five salesmen. Each has to scramble their way up the office league table before their deadpan manager Williamson (Kris Marshall) gives them the juiciest leads. Stanley Townsend's Shelly Levene sweats desperation as he cajoles, begs and bribes Williamson into giving him the break he needs... Meanwhile, Slater, as the slickest operator Ricky Roma, delivers a superbly judged performance of measured aggression." The Metro
"The cut-throat world of tough-talking American salesmen returns to the West End in this star-studded revival of David Mamet's Pullizer Prize-winning drama. This lively production shows the lengths the fiercely competitive colleagues will go to get one up on one another - even robbing their own office. The first half is rather stop and start and the abrupt curtain down after 35 minutes comes as a shock. But in the second act, the performances go up a gear, and the energy kicks in. There's fine work from Robert Glenister, as manipulative Moss, and great performances from Kris Marshall and Daniel Ryan. But special mention must go to Stanley Townsend as Shelly and leading man, Hollywood star Christian Slater, who breathes comedic charisma into Ricky Roma. These top-class performances really sell this wordy, yet punchy production." The Sunday Mirror
"The four manoeuvring Chicago real-estate agents in this play need to inhabit every pore of their characters the way shirts soak up perspiration. Sam Yates's revival is often missing the crucial swelter of brutish anxiety, but it has something going for it: Christian Slater. Returning to the West End after a decade away, he's working his barefaced smirk and triangular eyebrows as the cock-of-the-walk salesman Ricky Roma... Mamet's stylised profanity, the patter as deft as a card sharp's shuffle one second, as broken as a drunk's the next, needs to be delivered with rigorous control, and there are simply too many dubious American accents in Yates's production for us fully to buy into it... Beyond the fascination with closing the deal, we get the point that the American dream is a cold call - one best hung up on. For Mamet, we're all suckers, but he does at least find the humanity in that fact. That's something this production only intermittently does. Strange to say, but it's neither slick enough nor grubby enough." The Sunday Times
Glengarry Glen Ross in London at the Playhouse Theatre previewed from 26 October 2017, opened on 9 November 2017 and closed on 3 February 2018